Vacuum Feared at Top of DC HIV/AIDS Agency

The HIV/AIDS agency for Washington, D.C., may be without a permanent director through fall and perhaps early 2011, said observers reacting to the sudden resignation of Shannon L. Hader. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty announced her departure on June 8 during a news conference.

With an $88 million budget, the District's HIV/AIDS Administration is responsible for distributing federal HIV/AIDS funding to local governments, gathering data on the infection and contracting with community agencies to provide HIV-related services. ,

Hader enjoyed success in turning around years of poor performance in these responsibilities, and one city council member called her departure "catastrophic." Fenty alluded to Hader's stature while ticking off the credentials of her interim replacement, Nnemdi Kamanu Elias.

"I don't think I've seen a résumé that impressive since the day we hired Dr. Hader," Fenty said.

During Hader's tenure, HIV testing by District health care professionals increased to a projected 125,000 this year. The annual number of condoms distributed increased from 1 million to 3 million.

In the first report of its kind, the city announced last year that about 3 in every 100 were confirmed as HIV-positive.

In addition to its ongoing responsibilities with regard to HIV, the city is preparing to host the 19th International AIDS Conference in July 2012, the first time the conference has been in the United States since 1990.

The position of director likely will not be filled before 2011, said council member David Catania, a supporter of Hader and an advocate for increased HIV prevention efforts in D.C. Before that, Fenty must first face Council Chairperson Vincent Gray in a September primary.